So I’m a wonderful father who is completely infallible.
End of post.
Oh, you’re still here aren’t you?
Alright, let’s talk about some stuff.
So, parenting can really suck. Sometimes frequently. Often frequently. OK… lately it seems more like usually. I mean, I love my kids more than anything, and I’d do anything for them of course, but let’s be real for one minute… sometimes I just want to get in the car and start driving until I run out of gas.
Would I ever do that? No, of course not. But the thought gives me solace in times of trouble.
So I think I’m a pretty good dad but… well… sometimes not so much. So here we go:
My job is very stressful (said everybody). But really, it is… more on that some other time.
But anyways, everyday I get out of work, and every day I get stuck in traffic for an hour. Every. Damn. Day. Then I get the kids from the sitter and we go home; then the real fun begins. When the doors of my dad van open, it’s like the door just dropped on the landing craft, and we’re storming the god damn beaches.
The dogs have been locked up all day, so as soon as I open the door I know they’re going to go ballistic. A tiny, angry chihuahua and a pug celebrate my return by digging their tiny little dagger paws into my shin and screaming (barking, I guess) as loud as possible. Why are they screaming so loud? I know why I am.
My 3 year old needs juice in her cup, but she already has it, she’s just confused for no reason. But no, she actually doesn’t want the juice, she wants chocolate milk, but we don’t have chocolate milk. WHAT DO YOU MEAN YOU DON’T HAVE CHOCOLATE MILK?!
Then my 3 month old is screaming because she’s still coming to terms with the fact that mommy also works for a living, and daddy doesn’t have lactating breasts – just worthless man boobs; and I’m starting to sweat thinking I’d trade my testicles for a damn boob right about now. My balls just make problems… boobs solve them!
Now the dogs are done eating, which means the Chihuahua’s timer has started – if he is not outside in 15 seconds he is going to shit everywhere. Then he’s going to eat it. Then he’s going to lick my face later… and my daughters’.
So then I open the door a crack to get the leashes, but there’s geese in our back yard, and the Chihuahua said FUCK THOSE GEESE! and shoots out the backdoor like a bat out of hell. The pug gives me a quick, sorrowful look as if to say I know, he’s an idiot; I nod in agreement, but then he walks outside, stops short of the grass, turns around, stares me straight in the eyeball, and takes a dump on the patio.
Meanwhile, tiny humans are screaming. My 3 month old is still strapped to her portable car seat, and is currently rocking it so violently that she’s skidded the thing about 6 feet into the living room. My oldest continues to lament the lack of chocolate milk with an anguish befitting a funeral.
“Where’d chocolate milk go?!” – Tiny, insane human.
I contemplate letting the dogs continue to run free but then realize I have absolutely no explanation for their disappearance prepared for my wife. So I run out as fast as I can and shepherd them back into the house.
Remember, I’ve been in the car for an hour before this, and it’s hotter than hell right now. So like a good, healthy person, I’ve been hydrating all day. This is great and all, but it has the unfortunate side effect that my bladder is so full right now that my back teeth are floating.
Apparently my 3-year-old’s is too, or at least it was, since she’s currently standing in a puddle of definitely not chocolate milk. But don’t worry, she’s using the absorbent properties of her stuffed sheep to soak it up.
After mister pee-sheep gets thrown into the wash, I get my daughter and the puddle cleaned up, and I make her a sandwich. Perhaps 5 minutes have passed since we pulled into the driveway.
Now it’s finally time to tend to the baby. I get her out of the car seat and she continues to freak out. I look in the fridge for a bottle but only find a bag of still frozen breast milk. With one arm holding baby, I clumsily fish around at the back of the bottom cabinet looking for a pan to heat some water. I know you’re not supposed to boil frozen milk this way but the screams of the tiny baby human in my arms are telling me that doesn’t matter right now.
I put the baby down in her pack and play while the milk is warming up. My older daughter realizes that there’s a chance that peace might return to my life. WELL WE CAN’T HAVE THAT!
“Daddy, can you put on the show?”
The show… I hate the show. The show is one of those awful things you find on Netflix or YouTube with the computer animated kids and animals that sing the same 10 songs on repeat until finally they become the soundtrack to your nightmares. I begin to wonder how much gas is in the van…
“DADDY, SHOOOOOOOW! PEEEEEEEAAAAAAAAZZZZZ!”
I begrudgingly turn the show on. The music seems to placate her for the time being.(Daddy finger, daddy finger, where are you? At the bar, at the bar, how do you do? By the way, who wrote that awful song?!)
By now the milk is warming up and I can actually take care of the baby. I get a brief respite as the children are eating, and I sit down for the first time in what feels like hours.
“Mommy finger, mommy finger where are you?…” – certified asshole.
But soon my oldest is finished with her dinner, and I’m surprised that it’s already almost 8pm – I hadn’t realized how late I’d stayed at work that evening. So it’s time for bath and bed for my oldest.
So we all head upstairs, and I put the baby down in her crib. Bath time proceeds as normal with my oldest one playing with her bath toys in peace and my baby actually taking a break from screaming. But after a few minutes the baby starts screaming again so I try to coax my oldest out of the bath.
At first I try to do the nice thing, ask her if she’s ready, try to ease her out of it. But it’s clear she has no intention of getting out of the bath, so I’ll have to make her. I start washing her and she loses it. She knows that means bath-time is over and she’s not ready. But baby’s screaming in the other room and I can feel that familiar feeling of “baby is crying, I need to do something” panic rise.
My anxiety is finally reaching a breaking point as I have to lift my oldest out of the water with one arm while I wash her bottom half because she refuses to stand up on her own. The screams from the other room intensify, and the wriggling child in my arms begins kicking wildly.
Then at last my anxiety overcomes me and I break; I spank my daughter – hard. And not just once, but ten times. Over and over.
She stops resisting for a moment and is in complete shock. Then she starts crying in earnest. I quickly finish washing her, then lift her out of the tub to dry. She’s inconsolable. I do the only thing I can think to do to calm her down – I hug her.
She cuddles with me for several minutes while the baby cries in the other room. At last, she allows me to let her go, and I scoop up the baby from the other room, and I tuck my oldest into bed – but not before she makes me read her her favorite books. At last she asks me to turn the light off, and I kiss her goodnight.
I’ll admit, this incident freaked me out. Many parents are fine with spanking their kids; they think it’s good for them… even think it’s necessary. That’s never been my thinking but I know plenty of people who spank their kids and everybody turns out fine. What upset me was my loss of control.
I wasn’t spanking her because I decided to, or because it was some life lesson about listening to your parents, and learning discipline. I did it because I was pissed, plain and simple. Now maybe she deserved it. She was out of line after all, and she was the one who caused me to lose my temper. But she’s 3… what does she really know?
So now am I someone who beats their kids? A deadbeat dad who comes home from work and loses control? I don’t know, maybe that’s an overreaction, but it’s something that will probably stick with me for a long time, and definitely qualifies as a Shameful Moment in Parenting.